P&G chief warns against economic 'negativism'

LONDON - Alan George Lafley, chairman and chief executive of Procter & Gamble, the world's biggest advertiser, has urged the US Presidential candidates to resist the urge to talk down the economy and spark a deep global recession.

Alan George Lafley, chairman and chief executive of Procter & Gamble
Alan George Lafley, chairman and chief executive of Procter & Gamble

Lafley reportedly said he was worried about "excessive negativism" when candidates talked about the economy, particularly during the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to become the Democrat's presidential candidate.

"You know we are in a business where psychology matters - even in the staples business - and in the economy, psychology matters. It could go negative on the economy, that could be a problem ... we will talk ourselves into a worse recession," he told the Financial Times.

"I am hoping McCain and Obama will have a different dialogue than Clinton and Obama," he added.

P&G owns some of the biggest brands in the world, including Pampers, Pantene, Ariel and Duracell.

Nielsen Media Research figures showed that Procter & Gamble increased spend on above-the-line advertising in 2007 by nearly 13% in the UK, spending a total of almost £203m. It uses the agencies Starcom MediaVest, MediaCom and ZenithOptimedia.

In the US, spend by the company for the year was up 6% to $3.7bn (£1.8bn).

Lafley added that P&G was well placed to withstand the economic downturn.

The biggest threat comes from lower-cost, own-brand versions of its branded products, he said.

Procter & Gamble is responding by producing cheaper versions of some of its leading brands, including a basic version of Bounty (pictured) kitchen paper.

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